Once Upon a Time, Season 1, Episode 12--"Skin Deep"
This is one of my favorite episodes. It is also when I first became emotionally invested in Rumplestiltskin's love life. You'll see why.
Enchanted Forest, The Past--There are people in some kind of castle, a bunch of men, and a young woman. There is a map on a table, with little wooden soldiers on the map. There is a war on, and it's an Ogre War. The Enchanted Forest seems to have a lot of these.
The men and the woman are talking about how screwed they are, now that their main outpost has fallen. It seems they have sent for someone, but "he" hasn't arrived.
Until he does. It's Rumplestiltskin!
He rejects their offer of gold. Instead, he wants the woman to come to his castle and be his caretaker. It's either the woman, or they can all be Ogre fodder. She's a noblewoman of some kind, and promised to someone else, but Rumple wants her housekeeping services.
The woman agrees to go. It is then that we find out what story we're in.
The woman's father refers to her as "Belle," and calls Rumple a "beast." Belle calls her fiance "Gaston."
We're in Beauty and the Beast, guys! And, Rumple is the beast. It won't be the only time he is used as a metaphor for another villain in this show. It's just the first.
Belle gets Rumple's assurance that if she goes with him, her family and friends will live. Rumple promises her they will. That's all Belle needs to hear. She agrees to go.
Rumple reminds her it is forever, and she's cool with that.
Gaston tries to stop her, but she tells him SHE is the only one who decides her fate, and she has decided.
She goes with Rumple.
Storybrooke, The Present--Rumple harasses "Mr. French," the local flower shop owner, who is really Belle's father. Rumple owns the loan on Mr. French's delivery van, and forecloses on it, as French has not made his payments.
Regina waylays Rumple just after he takes the keys to the van, and she wants to talk to him. He says it will have to wait until later...."Please." Remember how he got Regina to write it into the curse that she had to do whatever he says in Storybrooke, as long as he says "Please?" Yeah, so does Rumple.
Emma and Snow talk at Granny's diner, and Snow updates Emma on Henry's well-being, since Regina is still keeping them apart.
Cinderella comes in with her baby daughter, eager for a girls' night out. Emma is just trying to come up with an excuse to get out of it, when she gets an official "sheriff" call.
She goes to a house we haven't seen before. It's the little-shown Rumplestiltskin house! One of Rumple's neighbors called it in when they saw his front door open. Emma and Rumple confront each other with guns inside.
Emma comments on how Rumple has a knack for making enemies, and he utters for the first time what will become his catchphrase for the series: "I'm a difficult man to love."
Enchanted Forest, The Past--Rumple shows Belle to her new "room" at his castle, which is basically a dungeon, and he locks her in.
The next day, he explains her duties to her, which is basically household stuff, and to be at his beck and call for anything else he might need, including "skinning the children he hunts." Belle is horrified, but it turns out Rumple has a sense of humor. He was just making a joke.
Belle is a little shaky, and drops a teacup, chipping it (remember Chip, the chipped teacup from Beauty and the Beast....the Disney cartoon version? That's Once Upon a Time's version right here). Rumple is not upset.
Rumple: "It's just a cup."
It will also become the symbol of their love for the rest of the series. That chipped cup is IMPORTANT....to Rumple and Belle.
Storybrooke, The Present--Emma found most of Rumple's stolen stuff at Mr. French's house (it turns out his first name is Moe, under the curse). Rumple isn't as pleased as you would expect him to be. He's angry Emma didn't find all of his things, as important things are still missing. He's also mad that she didn't bring in Moe. But he wasn't home when she searched his place. She will get him, she assures Rumple.
Rumple stalks off to do it himself.
Enchanted Forest, The Past--Belle falls off a ladder while dusting the tops of some curtains. Rumple catches her. They look into each other's eyes, and there is the first sign of attraction between them.
Later, Belle tries to engage Rumple in conversation, like two real people. She mentions she's been there a few months, and has had some time to explore the place. She found some child-sized clothes, and wants to know if Rumple had a kid.
Rumple confirms he had a son and lost him, and also lost the son's mother.
Belle says she is sorry, and attempts to engage Rumple further. She says his former family means he must have been a man once. Rumple isn't eager to talk, but Belle says if she isn't going to know another person her whole life, she would like to know him.
Rumple seems inclined to give her what she wants, but a knock on his castle door interrupts him. It is Gaston, come for Belle!
Rumple cuts him off mid-rescue declaration, and turns him into a rose, which he then brings to Belle as a gift. She has no idea the rose is Gaston.
Rumple asked her why she agreed to come with him, as she had a life, family, and friends. She said she wanted to be a hero. She also wanted to see the world, which didn't work out to well for her, but she accomplished the hero thing by saving her kingdom.
Also, her engagement to Gaston was an arranged one, and she never much cared for him. She describes her idea of real love to Rumple (hint: to Belle, love is "layered," whatever that means). But, enough about her. She wants to hear about Rumple's son (remember Baelfire from a few episodes ago?).
Rumple is intrigued by Belle and how she neither fears him nor looks at him as a monster. She genuinely sees him as a man. So, he makes her a deal. If she goes into town to buy him some more straw for spinning, he will tell her the rest of his tale when she returns.
Belle is stunned, because her understanding was that she would never be allowed to leave the grounds of Rumple's castle ever again. Rumple says he trusts her.
It's actually a kindness toward her, and a test. Rumple is beginning to love her, so he is granting her her freedom by doing this. He honestly does not expect her to return. To him, if she comes back, it will mean she loves him, too, and he just doesn't believe anyone can love him. So, without saying it as such, he sets her free.
He actually tells her straight up that he doesn't expect her to return. He fully believes he will never see her again.
Belle is starting to understand what he's getting at.
Storybrooke, The Present--Snow, Cinderella, and Red have a girl's night out. Red encourages Cinderella to get some hot male action at the bar they're drinking at, but Cinderella demures that she is still with Thomas. That doesn't make any difference to Red, who goes off to dance with the boys.
Cinderella is sad at how much Thomas works, and is thus away from her.
Meanwhile, Rumple encounters Charming at Sneezy's store, where Charming is buying two Valentine's Day cards....one for Katherine, his cursed wife, and one for Snow, his real (but forgotten) wife. They talk briefly on the nature of love.
After Rumple leaves, we see he has Belle's dad tied up and gagged in the back of the flower delivery van.
Enchanted Forest, The Present--Belle encounters Regina in the woods on her way to town. They talk about the nature of love. This was a Valentine's Day episode, so there is plenty of exposition on the "nature of love" in this installment.
Belle believes she could love Rumple, but something evil has a hold of him.
Regina says it sounds like a curse, and all curses can be broken. All it takes is "true love's kiss." (True Love's Kiss, or TLK, should have a trademark symbol on it for this show.)
Regina: "True love's kiss can break any curse."
This is actually true. And, Regina is telling Belle this to screw with Rumple. You'll see why.
Meanwhile, Rumple is looking out the window for Belle, and is stunned when he sees her returning to the castle. He runs back to his spinning wheel before she comes in, and pretends he is indifferent to her return, but then admits he is "not unhappy" she is back.
She asks about his son once more, and all he says is he lost him. Belle surmises he has loved no one since then, and no one has loved him in return.
Rumple is mystified by this turn in the conversation, and softly asks her why she came back. Belle admits she wasn't going to, but she changed her mind. She then leans in and kisses him.
The curse over Rumple starts to break, and his sparkly, scaly skin begins to become normal once more. He wonders aloud what is happening. Belle is all excited because true love's kiss is working. She tells him it can break any curse, just like she recently learned.
Now, Rumple and Belle have just been confirmed as one of those ultra-rare "true love" couples, and that's a huge deal on this show. But, Rumple is pissed off. He pushes away from Belle.
Rumple (shouting): "Who told you that? Who knows that?"
Rumple instantly knows it was Regina with the "she."
Rumple accuses Belle of working with Regina, who is his greatest enemy, or of wanting to take away his power. Belle denies it. Rumple says she is a liar.
How does he know that, Belle wonders?
Rumple: (growling like an animal): "Because no one can love me."
He tosses her in the dungeon.
Having rejected true love's kiss, the curse come back to Rumple once more, and he gets all scaly and sparkly again.
Storybrooke, The Present--Rumple has Belle's dad at his house, and is beating him with his cane. It goes a little beyond anger at Moe stealing from him, however.
Rumple (beating him pretty ferociously, and screaming at him): "It's your fault. It's your fault she's gone, and she is never coming back. You were her father!"
(beat, beat, beat, beat....that cane is getting a lot of beating in on poor Moe....whose Enchanted Forest name is never revealed in the entire series).
Clearly, Rumple has his memories back. It was hinted at in the pilot, that he got them back upon hearing Emma's name. Now, it's obvious.
Enchanted Forest, The Past--Rumple goes on a rampage in his castle, breaking just about every glass object within easy reach, including glass-paneled cabinets and shelves. He is so furious at himself for thinking Belle could love him, when to him, it is obvious she was just working for Regina and trying to take his power, or, at the very least, to be a hero to her kingdom some more by undoing the Dark One.
He smashes everything with a wooden stick until he wears himself out.
Storybrooke, The Present--Emma arrives and stops Rumple's beating of Moe.
Enchanted Forest, The Past--Rumple finds the chipped teacup on his way out of the room. He puts it down without breaking it.
Storybrooke, The Present--Cinderella is contemplating leaving Thomas, because they are never together due to his working. Snow agrees that loving someone you can't be with is a terrible burden.
That's when Thomas shows up and asks Cinderella to marry him (of course, they're already married, but they don't remember that). She accepts, and they leave together, happy.
With Red off being slutty and Cinderella driving off with Thomas, Snow is all alone at the bar, so she leaves. She runs into Charming almost immediately, because he knew she would be there. He gives her her V-Day card, but it is the one intended for Katherine. Whoops!
Snow uses the sneaking around she's been feeling guilty about, as evidenced by the card mix-up, as an excuse to break up with him.
Meanwhile, Moe is taken away on a stretcher, but Emma assures Rumple that he didn't break anything Moe needs. Emma mentions the talk of "her" that Rumple was screaming at Moe, wondering if there is someone she needs to be protecting, but Rumple isn't interested in elaborating on it. So, Emma cuffs and arrests him.
Enchanted Forest, The Past--Rumple unlocks the dungeon to kick Belle out of his castle.
Rumple: "I don't want you anymore, dearie."
Belle is furious Rumple couldn't take a chance on love. She calls him a coward. Rumple denies it, and says his power simply means more to him than her. Belle isn't buying it.
She leaves, crying, but promises him he will regret making her go. All he will have is an empty heart and a chipped cup, she says, tears rolling down her face. She knows he loves her, even if he won't admit it, and she warns him he will miss her, but tells him he has made his choice.
Storybrooke, The Present--At the Storybrooke police station, Emma offers Rumple half a pastrami sandwich. He declines, but promises her that when he cashes in on the favor she owes him, it will be for more than half a sandwich.
(Honestly, Rumple is trying to make his intentions for cashing in on her owed favor sound dark and nefarious, but really, all he wants of her is a trip to NYC with a person who knows this world. He has his own, personal reasons for wanting to go there. I feel it is giving away nothing important to let you guys know that at this point. Rumple isn't going to make Emma kill anyone or anything. He wants a tour guide.)
Regina really wants to talk to Rumple, so she comes to the police station with Henry. She offers Emma half an hour with Henry if she gets out, takes Henry with her, and leaves her alone with Rumple.
Emma takes it, and says she and Henry will go get ice cream.
Rumple: "Bring me back a cone."
Once they're gone, Regina quickly reveals what Rumple knew to be true....Regina put Moe up to stealing from Rumple, telling Moe "real men" take what they want. But, it was all part of her plan to get Rumple alone, so she could ask him one very important question.
Regina: "What is your name?"
Rumple insists it is "Mr. Gold" (which is, in fact, his cursed name).
Regina: "I mean your real name."
Rumple promises her that "Mr. Gold" has been his name every moment he has been on "this earth." Technically, that is true. It has been his name from the moment he came to this land with the curse.
Regina: "But, what about moments spent elsewhere?"
Rumple plays dumb, like he doesn't know what she's asking.
Regina (finally tired of this game): "If you want me to return what's yours, tell me your name."
Rumple (staring hard at Regina): "Rumplestiltskin."
See? The curse IS real, and these people ARE fairy tale characters, who just happen to also be real people from a land with magic. Henry was correct all along.
The name is all Regina needed to hear. She opens up her bag, and hands him an object.
Ooh, she had Moe steal the chipped cup, guys!
Regina gives the cup back to Rumple, wondering why it is so important to him. Why, that is his business, "your majesty." He warns her that now they're being honest with each other, nothing between them will change.
Regina: "We shall see."
Enchanted Forest, The Past--Regina waltzes in to Rumple's castle, without even knocking, probably the only person in the Enchanted Forest who can get away with it. Rumple is smug about her plan to take his power not working.
Regina asks if this is about his maid, the one she met on the road. She purposefully gets Belle's name wrong a few times until Rumple corrects her.
Regina assures him she had nothing to do with "that tragedy."
Rumple (dangerous and dark): "What tragedy?"
Regina oh-so-nonchalantly explains that when Belle went home, her fiance was missing, and her family and friends shunned her for consorting with the Dark One.
Rumple asks hopefully if she needs "a home." He's offering his. He totally wants Belle back, just as she warned him he would.
Regina isn't done with her story, though. She tells Rumple that Belle's father locked her away in a tower, had priests come in and beat her regularly to cleanse her soul, and, in desperation, and with no one who loved her anymore, Belle leapt from the tower to her death.
Well, that explains why Rumple put the beatdown on Moe in Storybrooke.
Rumple thinks Regina is lying at first, but her earnest expression makes him believe. He kicks her out of his castle, and she remarks as she leaves on how the castle is looking dusty and he should get a new girl.
Regina is such a bitch. I just can't stand her, in the Enchanted Forest or Storybrooke. I promise, she is the worst part of this entire show. Every storyline after this first season would have been way better without her in it.
Rumple, sad and alone, takes the chipped cup out of the china cabinet, and puts it in a place of prominence in his great hall. Then, he cries over it.
Storybrooke, The Present--Regina goes to the basement of the Storybrooke town hospital and brings a rose to a lone nurse on duty there.
Regina: "Has anyone been to see her?"
Nurse: "No ma'am. Not ever."
Regina walks down the hall to a cell. It appears this is the hospital's mental ward. She lifts the flap over the peep hole on one of the doors and looks in.
Inside, sitting on a bench, with ratty hair and dressed in rags, is Belle!
This will so come back to bite Regina in the ass later. She's abducted Rumple's true love. That can't go well for her.
Next: Season 1, Episode 13--"What Happened to Frederick"
*All photos are Creative Commons